For a pregnant woman who has tested positive for coronavirus disease, it is a huge sigh of relief when her newborn tests negative. But till the time she recovers and tests negative for the virus, the baby has to be separated from the mother.
It is a challenging situation for authorities at Sassoon General Hospital, which has handled the most number of such cases in Pune. Immediate family members of the mother are also often quarantined, and the hospital has to arrange caretakers to look after the newborn.
Till the time the baby’s family members test negative or a caretaker can be arranged, authorities have the task of providing care for the newborn.
A major part of the care regime is feeding the baby every two hours. The milk is donated by lactating women at the human milk bank at Sassoon General Hospital.
“We had to counsel the mothers and convince the newborns’ families that they would be safe here. A small room at ward 22 was set aside with cots and warmers. A doctor is in charge, and two medical interns keep a watch. Only when the baby tests negative on the fifth day after delivery, he or she is sent home,” said Dr Aarti Kinikar, professor and head of the Paediatrics Department at B J Medical College.
The neonatal intensive care unit, right now, has 100 per cent occupancy, said Dr Murlidhar Tambe, acting dean of B J Medical College and Sassoon General Hospital. “We have also seen an increase in the number of patients being referred from other hospitals,” said Dr Tambe.
There has been a marginal increase in the number of referrals to Sassoon General Hospital, said Dr Ramesh Bhosale, head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. He said they have been getting several referrals not only from outside the city areas but also from various private hospitals.
“Some cases are complicated and we are taking on these challenges. We follow universal precautions… while the woman who is in labour needs to be treated soon, her swab samples are also taken for COVID-19 tests,” said Dr Bhosale.
Annually, 11,000 deliveries are conducted at Sassoon General Hospital.
In April, 11 pregnant women tested positive for COVID-19 at Sassoon Hospital, and six of them delivered babies who tested negative for the virus. So far, two of the women have recovered and been discharged.
These include a 25-year-old woman from Khadki Bazaar who had cough, fever and headache. She had reported to Sassoon General Hospital on April 16. She underwent a C- Section on April 17. Swabs of both mother and child were taken and while she tested positive for the virus, the baby tested negative. After the baby’s report tested negative on the fifth day, the authorities sent him home with his family members, while the woman was discharged late on May 6 after her report tested negative
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